Google Launches Wikipedia Competitor

More and more these days, I find myself using Wikipedia as a source of information. However, it now has a competitor in the form of "knol," a new concept from Google. Knol, which is Google's shorthand for "unit of knowledge," is in the concept-and-development stage, and should be available for general use some time next year.

For now, submissions are by invitation-only, but Google said it will eventually publish articles by a wider variety of authors. Knol author names will be displayed, and authors will be able to participate in revenue-sharing with Google based on advertising and page views for their contributions.

Are you interested in participating for the chance of profit, or for the chance to spread your knowledge? Clue me in at

Last Microsoft Update Causes IE Issues
After my Windows XP system installed its security updates last week, my Internet Explorer started crashing randomly, for no apparent reason (four times today so far). Turns out I'm not alone. In the Microsoft support forums, others are reporting software crashes and, in some cases, a lack of browser functionality after installing update MS07-069.

The IE 6/IE 7 update purportedly addressed four flaws, all rated "critical" for Windows 2000, XP and Vista but "moderate" for Windows Server 2003. Three of the flaws are memory corruption bugs in the browsers, while the fourth is in IE's rendering of pages that include Dynamic HTML code.

Microsoft has promised to investigate and address this problem, but others have said that the best and most expedient way to fix it is to uninstall that patch.

Have you had any problems with this month's security patches? Tell me at

The Transistor Approaches Retirement Age?
It hasn't quite hit 65 -- or my own target retirement age of 66 years and 6 months, for that matter -- but it's aging nonetheless: The transistor this week celebrated its 60th birthday.

On Dec. 16, 1947, scientists John Bardeen and Walter Brattain created the first transistor. The following month, William Shockley, a member of the same research group, created another design that became the preferred transistor because it was easier to manufacture.

In more recent years, the viability of the transistor has depended on the ability of the manufacturing process to keep shrinking the size of the components. Possible future technologies include quantum computing and optical switches.

Do you see other technologies overtaking the transistor? Send in your prognostication to

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.


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